SABPA Newsletter, March 2017
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2017 Pacific Alliance Event
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SABPA Events

2017 Pacific Alliance Event

(Mar. 11th)

When: 11:30 am – 2:00 pm, Sunday, March 11th, 2017/03/11
Where: MOFO Del Mar Office – 12531 High Bluff Dr. #100, San Diego, CA 92130
Title: Entrepreneurship Opportunities at China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone

SAPBA pacific alliance will host a forum for a delegation from Shanghai Waigaoqiao Free Zone United Development Co., Ltd (UDC), to introduce the entrepreneurship opportunities in China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone (PFTZ). UDC is committed to serving the regional economic development and implementing the national strategy in PFTZ. They will share their experiences and knowledge with interested parties on the forum. It will be a great opportunity for companies/entities who are seeking funding or collaboration/partnering with Chinese counterparts to have a direct dialog with the delegates from UDC.

Please note that this will be a Chinese speaking event.

2017 SABPA Career Development Series (Apr. 18th)

When: 6:00-8:30pm, Tuesday, April 18th, 2017
WHERE: MOFO Del Mar Office – 12531 High Bluff Dr. #100, San Diego, CA 92130
Title: Success for Foreign-Born Professionals in The Pharma/Biotech Industry
Foreign-born professionals with advanced degrees, especially Asian Americans, are very well-represented in pharma/biotech companies and academic institutions. However, few have advanced to management positions, especially at the executive levels. In our 2017 SABPACareer Development Series, we have invited Dr. Kay Lee, Career Coach of Talent & Leadership Optimization at The Optima Program (TOP) to share her expertise on the factors and skills pertinent to the success as a foreign-born professional in the pharma/biotech industry. The presentation will be followed by an interactive forum with a number of panelists from the local biotech/pharmaceutical industry to share their stories and insights.
6:00 – 6:30 PM           Registration and Networking
6:30 – 7:00 PM           Presentation
7:00 – 8:00 PM           Panel Discussion
8:00 – 8:30 PM           Networking & Wrap Up

16th San Diego BioPharma Conference (Jun. 17th)

When:                       Jun 17th, 2017 8:00am-5:00pm
Where:                      Hilton Del Mar, 15575 Jimmy Durante Blvd, Del Mar, CA 92014
$40 for general admission ($80 onsite)
$30 for postdocs/students ($60 onsite)
$100 1-on-1 Bio-Partnering with complimentary general admission     (registration closes on Jun 13th, 2017)
San Diego BioPharma Conference, the flagship event of SABPA, has witnessed the boom of the pharmaceuticals and biotechnology industry in one of the nation’s premier innovation centers. This annual conference has been featuring some of the most respectful figures in the fields, from potential Nobel laureates and technologically disruptive inventors to entrepreneurs and multi-billion-dollar dealmakers. This year, we will also be celebrating the 15th anniversary of SABPA, which has become one of the most influential organizations in our industry in Southern California. To make the conference more special, 2017 San Diego BioPharma Conference will be listed as an official satellite event of the 2017 BIO International Convention*. Come to meet some of the visionary leaders and to network with your peers.  Topics include the cutting-edge research on Immuno-Oncology, disruptive technologies, creative business models and strategies to succeed in the ever-changing global market.  This is one of the biggest San Diego biotech events that you don’t want to miss.
*The official listing on the 2017 BIO International Convention will be in March.

We are delighted to announce the recipient of 2017 San Diego Achievement Award
J. Craig Venter, Ph.D.
Co-Founder and Executive Chairman – Human Longevity, Inc. (HLI)
Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer – J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI)
Co-Founder, Executive Chairman and Co-Chief Scientist – Synthetic Genomics, Inc. (SGI)
Confirmed speakers:
Craig Venter, Ph.D., Chairman and CEO, The J. Craig Venter Institute
Richard Geary, Ph.D., Sr. VP, Development, Ionis Pharmaceuticals
Jeffrey Staford, Ph.D. CEO & Founder, Jecure Therapeutics, Inc
K. Barry Sharpless, Ph.D. W. M. Keck Professor of Chemistry, TSRI
Peng Chen, JD, Ph.D., Partner, MoFo
Panel Discussion: Cross-Pacific BioPharma Outlook under Trump Administration
Confirmed panelist:
Joe Panetta, MPH, President & CEO, Biocom – The Life Science Association of CA


Pacific Bio-Partnering is a great platform to explore the opportunities of licensing, investment, fund raising, procurement and other collaboration deals.  It is designed for you to pre-arrange 1-on-1 face-to-face meetings with potential partners/investors by using the online tool Partnering360*.  Participants can upload their profile to the platform, send invitations to other participants.   Once the invitations are accepted, the 30min private meetings will be arranged automatically.   Participants have access to pre-scheduled 1-on-1 meetings in designated meeting areas during the conference, as well as access to Partnering360* database all year round.   Pacific Bio-Partnering will be hosted at the same time and in the same venue with San Diego Bio-Pharma Conference (06/17/2017).
Who shall attend?
  • Entrepreneurs and executives from local biotech and pharmaceutical companies
  • Chinese pharmaceutical companies who are looking for collaboration opportunities
  • Investors from local firms or cross Pacific
  • Biotech or pharmaceutical service providers
How to Participate?
  • Receive a private Partnering360* account registration link sent by bio-1on1@sabpa.org
  • Access Partnering360 to enter your information, company profile and schedule meetings.
  • Check your Partnering360 account regularly for responses to your meeting scheduling
  • Act early to allow enough time to pre-arrange meetings ( >2 weeks prior to the event date)
Need Help? For more information, please email: bio-1on1@sabpa.org
Examples of Previous Participating Organizations
  • GF-Bay City Capital International Life Sciences USD Fund
  • Qiming US Healthcare Venture Fund
  • Alley Bridge Group
  • HuaQi Capital
  • Abbvie
  • Denovo Biopharma
  • Theragene Therapeutics
  • MingSight Pharmaceuticals
  • Kelun Pharma
  • CTTQ Pharma
  • Simcere
  • Califia Bio
  • 中山市健康科技产业基地发展有限公司
  • Sino-Singapore (Chengdu) Innovation Park Development Co
  • Songshan Lake
  • TEDA

SABPA Report
First SABPA Frontiers in Therapeutics and Diagnostics Forum
The first SABPA Frontiers in Therapeutics and Diagnostics Forum was successfully held at Hilton Hotel, Del Mar on Feb. 7. The first in its series, this forum attracted more than 500 attendees.
The forum had two main topics. The morning session focused on immuno-oncology, a hot topic in the past several years. Just two days before the session, ASCO named immunotherapy as ‘Advance of the Year’. As a result, the timely session raised strong interests from the audience.
After a short opening address, Dr. Carl Barrett presented the first speech of the day. As vice president of translational science in oncology in AstraZeneca, his topic focused on Tagrisso, a lung cancer drug that took only 2 years and 8 months, a record, from the first patient dose to its approval in 2015. After Tagrisso’s approval, the next question AstraZeneca asked was how to find the patients that are most likely to benefit from the drug. To achieve this goal, Dr. Barrett introduced a lower-risk, less-invasive plasma based liquid biopsy technology. More importantly, the method is as efficient as regular biopsy. The patients diagnosed with T790M mutation via liquid biopsy could well benefit from Tagrisso. In addition, the technology could identify novel mutations from Tagrisso-resistant patients. In the end, Dr. Barrett pointed out that most anti PD-1/PD-L1 therapies did not work on patients with EGFR mutation, and this puzzle would be the R&D direction in the future.
The second speech was presented by Dr. Michael Karin, distinguished professor of pharmacology, UCSD. Dr. Karin’s research interest is non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), an incurable disease that often leads to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Dr. Karin found that a gene named p62 determines the process from NASH to HCC. This is due to p62’s role in activating NRF2, a gene that could rescue dying HCC initiating cells, allowing the accumulation of mutations. The discovery could bring new therapy in the future. Dr. Karin also found immunosuppressive mechanisms that are stimulated by NASH. Targeting these mechanisms might also create new therapies.
Professor Michael Ka Keu Wong from MD Anderson Cancer Center gave an excellent speech on immuno-oncology. After introducing the history and mechanism of different checkpoint inhibitors, Dr. Wong showed an amazing case: within 8 weeks, 179 out of 180 tumors from one patient disappeared. With extensive first-hand experience, Dr. Wong shared his observations. First, tumor size might increase after first couple weeks of treatment. This is due the time-consuming infiltration process. Dr. Wong suggested that both patients and physicians needed to have patience. Second, compared to traditional treatments, immunotherapy has amazing long-term effect. Take melanoma as an example, the median survival time for advanced melanoma was 8 months before the invention of immunotherapy. Now, the surviving curve could reach plateau after 10 years, suggesting the patient might not have a recurrence in his lifetime. “I don’t want merely several weeks or several months. I want you to send my Christmas card after 10 years.” Dr. Wong said passionately.
Professor Eleanor Hua Yu from City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center introduced an interesting topic — cell/nucleus targeting antibody. As the core of current immunotherapy, antibody could only bind extracellular targets. The ability to bind intracellular targets would expand its application. Dr. Yu’s team showed that their platform could achieve this goal in mice models.
Dr. Alessandra Cesano, CMO of NanoSting technologies, then introduced the importance of biomarkers for immunotherapy. Using Keytruda as an example, Dr. Cesano argued that stratification of patients could determine whether a clinical trial would succeed or not. Later she raised the concept of Tumor Inflammation Signature (TIS), suggesting that TIS is a more simple and rapid biomarker. Based on these biomarkers, we could better measure different tumors and apply this knowledge in better treating patients.
After her presentation, Dr. Cesano joined ‘What have we achieved with cancer immunotherapy and where are we going?’ panel discussion as the moderator. Other speakers include Dr. Sandip Patel from Cancer Immunotherapy Program, UCSD, Dr. Jeffery Su, EVP and COO of Sorrento Therapeuticals, Dr. Peter (Peizhi) Luo, Founder & CEO of Adagene, and Dr. James Godsey, Vice President of Thermo Fisher Scientific. After introducing their current projects, these speakers initiated discussion on immuno-oncology.
In the discussion, Dr. Patal believed the resistance of anti-PD-1 therapy was caused by two factors: T cell infiltration, and PD-L1 expression level. To boost the efficacy, scientists need to try combo therapy consisting multiple immunotherapies. Combine immunotherapy with target therapy could also be a good positive choice. Dr. Su introduced Sorrento’s pipelines, and suggested that Sorrento’s anti-PD-1 antibody has higher binding ability, which could potentially reduce the dose. He also introduced Sorrento’s oncolytic products. At the end, he suggested that future immunotherapy needed to ‘inhibit bad proteins, and enhance good proteins’. As an expert of antibody design, Dr. Luo raised the idea of precision engineering. He also provided some data from Adagene showing better efficacy. Dr. Godsey emphasized the importance of biomarkers. As a tool provider, Thermo Fisher Scientific would keep developing diagnostic tools to help identifying patients.
The afternoon session started after a short lunch break. The topics in the afternoon session focus on the development of a universal companion diagnostic test using the NGS technology and big data.
Dr. Jim Godsey from ThermoFisher Scientific and Dr. John Millholland from Novartis shared with the audience their insights on developing a universal companion diagnostic test based on NGS technology from the perspective of a diagnostics test maker and a drug marker respectively. They both talked about the need for a companion diagnostics assay that can screen for multiple cancer biomarkers in one assay due to the change of cancer treatment. The precision medicine requires patients be stratified based on their gene mutations and the old PCR based diagnostics tests for single biomarker become expensive, time consuming and results in inefficient use of patients’ samples if multiple biomarkers are needed to stratify patients for a particular drug treatment. Thermo Fisher Scientific and Novartis collaborated to develop the Oncomine assay, a type of universal NGS oncology test that can screen for multiple biomarkers covering many type of cancers at the same time. Dr. Godsey talked about the steps in developing the Oncomine assay and its performance in quality control experiments. Dr. Millholland said this types of assay can have multiple uses including: performing exploratory biomarker studies, help selecting patients for clinical trials and identifying patients for the right treatments.
Dr. Fengzhu Sun from the University of Southern California gave a talk named “Alignment-based and alignment-free genome and metagenome comparison and applications.” From his background as an academic scholar, he gave a primer on the various models and algorithms used to assembly sequencing data. As the cost of sequencing gets cheaper exponentially, how to sue these data becomes very important. The mathematical models being used to assemble NGS data may sounds boring, but it is vital to determine the sequence depth needed to generate accurate genome sequence and could help companies using the least amount of money to get the maximal information. He also highlighted the importance of and tools for metagenomic analysis, which are being used in Marine biology, Microbiome analysis and other research areas.
In the afternoon panel discussion focusing on “big data”, moderator Adrian Benjamin from Illumina and panelists Stuart Heilsberg from Wuxi NextCode, Joyce Peng from Novogene and Gary Gao from Med Data Quest shared with the audience their perspectives on “big data”. The topics include the concept of big data and the importance of data sharing. Dr. Gao commented that although big data was mentioned a lot in the context of genomic data, the concept is not restricted to genomic information. For example, medical data from electronic patient record is also a type of big data. The important aspect is how well the quality of the data is so that analysis can be conducted from the information (which is critical in extracting information from medical records).
All the panelists agree that data sharing is vital for the analysis of big data and there are still many barriers to overcome to encourage data sharing from different agencies, institutes and companies. The problem for data sharing exists in multiple levels, from the willingness to share data, to the resources and expertise needed to build the infrastructure for data sharing.
The SABPA Frontiers in Therapeutics and Diagnostics forum also hosted the eCorner and the SABPA Wuxi Apptec poster competition. These events allow burgeoning entrepreneur and young scientists to present their ideas and research in a poster format. These posters have attracted lots of attentions during the break and at lunchtime.

Our Platinum Corporate Sponsors

Our Gold Corporate Sponsors
Sino-American Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Professionals Association (SABPA) is an 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in early 2002 by professionals and scholars from the Chinese community in San Diego. In 2005, we expanded to Orange County and Los Angeles. We invite all scholars, professionals and entrepreneurs of any origin who are working in, engaged in, or interested in the biotech and pharmaceutical industry in Southern California to join us as a member of SABPA.
Our Mission
  • Provide a forum to facilitate professional contact and communication among local Chinese American professionals in academia, biotech and pharmaceutical industries;
  • Foster professional growth, career improvement and personal development of our members;
  • Provide opportunities to educate local communities about the values of biomedical research and the benefits of biotech and pharmaceutical innovations;
  • Stimulate and facilitate the development of relationships between the U.S. and China in biotech and pharmaceutical communities.
  • To fulfill our mission, we will sponsor professional seminars, meetings, and symposia; share employment opportunity information in local biotech and pharmaceutical industry; sponsor social events; and disseminate information about local biotech and pharmaceutical companies.